Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident. After stealing Shelly’s ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly’s body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last “so Shelly” romantic quest. At least that’s what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly’s and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end. (From Amazon.ca)
I’d have to say, before you actually dive into this book and enjoy it, to really *fully* enjoy this book to the maximum, it’s best if you familiarize yourselves with the Romantic Poets. Here I’m talking about the real famous ones: Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and John Keats. Make Shelley a female and then you get the main cast of So Shelly. It’s also best if you also take a quick read through of Lord Byron’s life just for the extra background information.
I absolutely loved this book. I loved the Romantic Poets and their transformation into three high school students in a contemporary setting was just amazing and very well done. At first I was skeptical because I haven’t seen this done before and thought this might be a flop. But it wasn’t. It was extremely well done and the portrayals of Lord Byron,and John Keats were great and I’d say, probably hit the bulls eye when it comes to accuracy (well, close enough). Although I can’t say the same for Shelley (since he became a she for this story). Still all three characters were really good and fun to read.
Byron really was the main star of this book. He was dashing, exciting to read, had a rather peculiar and rather dysfunctional life but it didn’t matter. He still oozed charm, and you couldn’t help but like him even though you knew he was a selfish self centered jerk that really was just out for himself. The things he’s done in the book might make you either shake your head, widen your eyes at his audacity, or just make you say: “Whatta guy”.
Yet there was also Keats, who was central to this story as well and the complete opposite of Byron. They become the odd couple yet manage to have an odd but interesting friendship. Byron takes the reins, and Keats just follows but it’s deeper than that as the story progresses. I liked how this developed, in fact, I really liked all character development in this book. The characters are very real and three dimensional – although Shelly not so much I wonder if it’s because she was made a girl in this book so she had to act differently? her development was there as well but I didn’t think it was as great a magnitude as the other two.
The plot was good, albeit slow. However, I think with this book, although there is a mystery behind it, the main focus was on the main characters and their relationships and dynamics. The plot was really secondary here. That being said, I don’t think the book is really for everyone. (Plus, there’s some content matter in there not really meant for younger teens, this is for the older teen bracket). Would I recommend this? yes and no. Yes, because I thought it was a good read however I myself love the poets mentioned. So perhaps this book would be best for those familiar with the three. Those new to this should give it a try anyway, but background information will help.
I give it a 9 out of 10.